Are you ‘Film-Literate’?

Are you ‘Film-Literate’?

It’s worth putting the work in.

Hot Take: More actors need to be film-literate. But what does that practically mean?

Smith College said it best- “the aim of Film Studies is to understand the moving image — something that, in its totality, we are very familiar with, and engage with, use to communicate, and are entertained by almost every day. Knowing how to use film is not the same as knowing how it works, and how it works on us — as individuals and as a culture

Credit: Smith College

So how do we go about “knowing how it works”? This is 3-fold. We need to be:

consuming media, discussing media, and creating media.  

What does it mean to “consume media”? Consumption is simply taking something in, which in this case refers to literally watching TV shows and movies. If you’ve never given much thought to the history of American cinema, it might be a good idea to start with the American Film Institute’s “100 Greatest American Movies of All Time” list. This might give you a better understanding of American Film History and how cinema has evolved throughout the years into what it is today!

Coach Sanna at The Actor’s Scene is super big on actors learning from films that have come before them. Check out this awesome quote from her regarding the importance of film literacy for actors!

"Becoming educated in film and film history is quite important for actors. Knowing which films shaped our industry can be a great tool in your artistic tool belt, as inspiration from prior works influences tone, style, and inevitably, performance in contemporary work. If you have an opportunity to take a film theory class, do it. If not, start with the AFI (American Film Institute) 100 - you can begin your education by watching the greats right in your living room." — Sanna Erica

-Coach Sanna Erica

In addition to being educated on film history and how movies and TV have evolved into what we see today, it is especially important for actors to be aware of what is filming in their market. In the United States, the three main filming markets are New York, Los Angeles, and Atlanta. For Atlanta actors, this means knowing (and watching!) what is filming in the Southeast! From Tyler Perry Studios to Marvel, there are a LOT of projects going on right now. Georgia.org has an ongoing resource you can check out to always know what’s filming in the peach state:

Now Filming in Georgia by Georgia.org

In addition to watching TV and movies, we need to discuss them! That’s why we sat down with TAS student extraordinaire Ashely Baker to discuss her ongoing quest for film knowledge to help her in her acting. To preface this chat, Ashely has taken Coach Sanna’s words to heart, and is working her way through the AFI Top 100 Movies List!

Hey Ashely! We are SO EXCITED that you are taking your acting journey one step further by trying to learn more about film history! What made you decide to take on the challenge of finding and watching these older movies? Why is it important to you?

A. Being an actor I feel like having knowledge about film is important. It adds more to your creative palate and you are able to pull aspects from different characters whether it’s from tv or film. You also can interpret a script better because a lot of movies and shows still incorporate scenes and dialogue from classics.

We totally agree! So what have you learned so far from the movies you’ve watched recently?

A. So far I have learned that a lot of films today are influenced by classic films. You can also see similarities between storylines from movies now and the classics. It’s quite intriguing and it made me dive deep and start comparing movies I’ve watched recently to the classics and it’s so cool being able to pinpoint the similarities.

You’re a rockstar, Ashely! Thank you for your time.

Thank you for allowing me to shed light on this topic and give my insight. I really am finding that I enjoy analyzing film.

My advice for actors seeking to learn more about film history is to do the same thing I did. Go through those movies on the American Film Institute's list and check them off as you watch them. You will learn so much and you might see something that you can add to your creative toolbox. Also being knowledgeable about film history can make you more confident as an actor.

-Ashely Baker

We are so excited for Ashely as she continues her journey into film literacy! It is very helpful to have a place to put your thoughts about what you’ve been loving on film and in TV lately, whether you’re watching the greatest films of all time or catching up with what’s currently filming in Georgia! Letterboxd is a great platform to publish your thoughts, and share with other film enthusiasts! It is “the social network for film lovers”

Check out Letterboxd.com

In addition to letterboxd, it’s helpful to use all of the resources you’re already using for online community (in addition to chatting with real-life friends and family, of course)! Here are some social media communities we think might help you out on your quest for learning more about film and what’s current in Georgia:

Atlanta Actors Collective

Actors Helping Actors

Acting in Atlanta

(Disclaimer: Social media websites like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Letterboxd might have inappropriate content for those under the age of 18. Please proceed with parental guidance if you’re a minor, and general caution if you’re an adult!)

Once you’re discussing and consuming media, you might as well start creating it too! YouTube and TikTok are wonderful platforms (with parental guidance, of course) to start playing around with making skits and films of your own! As actors, we can’t control how much we’ll be on-set, so creating our own content is a fun way to stay acting outside of class in-between bookings! If content creation is something you want to work towards, see about scheduling private and/or career coaching with a TAS Coach to talk about how to get started!

Ready to get started? Reach out today!

TASFRONTDESK@GMAIL.COM

678-313-7798

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About The Author

Molly Pass

Molly Pass is an Atlanta-local actress, acting coach, and wedding videographer who loves to help new and seasoned actors alike find their purpose and passion through performance. She holds her bachelor’s degree in Film and Media Studies from Georgia State University and enjoys discussing movies, shows, and all things new media. Her favorite part of working at The Actor’s Scene is being able to inspire folks to pursue their dreams and helping them to gain confidence in themselves along the way. When she is not acting or working in the digital media realm, she enjoys reading murder mysteries and desperately trying to keep a garden alive. 

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